The turmoil in Egypt
dominates the news from the Middle East,
overshadowing the recent oppressive measures imposed by the Iranian despots.
Apparently in an attempt to stifle any anti-regime
resistance inspired by the events in Cairo, the Tehran government has hanged at least 73 people in recent weeks, many of them political prisoners.
That's the atmosphere of oppression and terror that
Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rosoulof find
themselves in as they face sentences of six years in prison and a 20 year ban on making films. I had
thought maybe the government might be easing up on their position after reading
last month that Ahmadinejad had expressed disapproval of the harsh punishment.
Now, I'm not so sure.
Fortunately, the outrage felt by he international film community and others does not seem to have diminished. The Berlin International Film Festival, which had invited Panahi to serve in
their jury, will leave his seat vacant, protesting the Iranian government's
refusal to let him participate. Cannes
plans to award Panahi with a lifetime achievement award, probably in absentia,
and also is sponsoring an online petition to free him and Rasoulof (another
petition is being circulated by Amnesty International). Paul Haggis a few weeks
back indicated that he would try to get people during the Oscar broadcast to
wear white awareness ribbons in
solidarity with the two filmmakers
And last week at the
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards ceremony where we announced our statement
condemning thes sentencing (here is my awkward but earnest recitation), Jeff Malmberg,
winner of the Best New Filmmaker and Best Documentary Awards for "Marwencol," grabbed a bucket
of the green (the color of the Iranian opposition party) awareness ribbons (too
bad we could not have coordinated this with Haggis) that we were making
available to those at our event and said he would distribute them to those attending
the Independent Spirit Awards, the night before the Oscars on February 26.
Some other ways of protesting this injustice can be seen in this
whimsical, but pointed video.